The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bakery appeal

New Delhi, July 4: Novelist Mahasweta Devi has filed an appeal in the Supreme Court seeking review of the acquittal of all the accused in the Best Bakery killings in Vadodara.

The writer — who visited Gujarat several times after the riots that were sparked late in February 2002 — is shocked that several witnesses have not dared to depose before the court.

Equally perturbed, the National Human Rights Commission has decided to send its team to Gujarat on Monday to obtain a detailed account of the investigations and court proceedings.

The rights panel’s authority is mainly advisory and it has no executive mandate to compel a state government to comply with its orders.

Commission chairperson Justice A.S. Anand has asked his team “to inspect the records of the case, examine the judgment and all other relevant materials and submit a report to the commission within one week”.

He has written to the acting chief justice of Gujarat High Court, the trial court and the state government to extend all possible assistance to the team.

Justice Anand had last month asked the state chief secretary to send a copy of the trial court judgment. He also asked if the state, which has the right of appeal, was considering challenging the acquittal.

Chances are dim the Narendra Modi government would want to challenge the court’s decision.

The rights team will specifically look into the investigations by Gujarat police and intimidation of witnesses and their prevention from deposing before the court, if any.

Only 75 of 125 witnesses scheduled to appear before the court were called in to give evidence. The commission is also perturbed by news reports that Vadodara Muslims are scared to testify against the Hindus who led the attack.

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